Cultural Evolution, Sperber, Memes and Religion
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Cultural transmission in non-literate societies (including that of Homer) is first discussed, partly to test some theories of Dan Sperber, and partly to consider thetheory of memes, which is sometimes held applicable to Homeric formulae, and is considered next. After discussing Sperber's criticism of memeticism, I turn toSperber's susceptibility theory of culture, and his discussions of religion and of music. Further examples drawn from Homeric religion are found to be in tension with aspects of this theory. Two diverse interpretations of susceptibility present in Sperber's text are elicited and contrasted, of which one is criticised and the other welcomed as consistent with the role of reflection, artifice and rationality in the development of culture, activities that theories of culture cannot afford to disregard.